A shift towards clean energy

Clean energy gained further traction at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2015, with industry representatives affirming their commitment towards low-emission sources of power. However, they also noted the challenges involved.

Providing a positive note, Mr Wang Min, Executive Vice President of the State Grid Corporation of China, said such challenges should be seen as opportunities, not barriers.

Nuclear energy also featured in the discussions, on the back of growing momentum in the region. Lady Barbara Judge CBE, Chairman Emeritus of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said nuclear remains important because it addresses the key issues of energy security, energy dependence and climate change.

The challenge, as highlighted by European utility company E.ON SE’s board member, Mr Klaus Schäfer, is for nuclear to achieve commercial viability to compete with renewable sources and traditional fossil fuel generation.

Against the backdrop of lower oil and gas prices, Mr Peter Coleman, Managing Director and CEO of Woodside Energy, shared that liquefied natural gas (LNG) could complement clean energy options. In his view, LNG could compensate for the intermittent nature of renewables.

That aside, the current LNG pricing mechanism in the region – which is indexed to oil – may impede LNG infrastructure development in the long term, said Mr Charif Souki, Chairman and CEO of Cheniere Energy. There was also keen debate over how energy systems can be made more resilient to buffer against price volatility and other shocks such as climate change and cyber threats.

Mr Mohinder Gulati, Acting CEO of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (UNSE4ALL), said building energy system resilience should not just be about mitigating and adapting to changes. There should be emergency preparedness and response systems put in place.

In a separate session with 300 students from secondary schools, junior colleges, Institutes of Technical Education and universities, Mr Laurent Maillefer, ABB’s Head of Solar Power Conversion for Southeast Asia, and Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chairperson of Shell Companies in Singapore, urged the youths to think about energy use beyond Singapore and the region.

They also encouraged the students to challenge traditional mindsets and approaches towards energy issues and environmental concerns.